Prehospital and Disaster Medicine

Part I–Adults, Children, and Adolescents

When Disaster Strikes: Responding to the Needs of Children

Robin H. Gurwitcha1 c1, Michelle Keesa2, Steven M. Beckera3, Merritt Schreibera4, Betty Pfefferbauma5 and Dickson Diamonda6

a1 Department of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center for Terrorism and Disaster Branch, and National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

a2 Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, University of Michigan Medical School, Ann Arbor, Michigan USA

a3 School of Public Health, and Center for Emergency Care and Disaster Preparedness, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama USA

a4 Neuropsychiatric Institute and Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences University of California-Los Angeles, Terrorism and Disaster Branch, National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Los Angeles, California USA

a5 Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, Terrorism and Disaster Branch, and National Center for Child Traumatic Stress, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma USA

a6 Bioterrorism Preparedness Program, Los Angeles Department of Public Health, Los Angeles, California USA

Abstract

When a disaster strikes, parents are quick to seek out the medical advice and reassurance of their primary care physician, pediatrician, or in the case of an emergency, an emergency department physician. As physicians often are the first line of responders following a disaster, it is important that they have a thorough understanding of children's responses to trauma and disaster and of recommended practices for screening and intervention. In collaboration with mental health professionals, the needs of children and families can be addressed. Policy-makers and systems of care hold great responsibility for resource allocation, and also are well-placed to understand the impact of trauma and disaster on children and children's unique needs in such situations.

Correspondence:

c1 Department of Pediatrics University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center 1100 NE 13th Street Oklahoma City, OK 73117 USA E-mail: robin-gurwitch@ouhsc.edu